Lead the Whole Library

The easiest thing in a new job is to spot the brightest and the most promising.  They are the most fun to be around.  They quickly pick up on cues.  They make you feel bright and promising, too – just like them.  But an organization is not just the bright and promising.  It is a community, a strong but nimble team.

Years ago a colleague told me about her incredibly exciting time in a library that sparkled with talent, innovation, and enthusiasm.  But in a few short years that same library sank into dysfunction.  The hot shots all left to rise in the world.  The remaining staff, withering unnoticed in the shadow of the favored, weren’t able to maintain the excitement.  My colleague’s analysis was that the leadership had been misguided.  The leadership had been facilitating individual careers (including her own) but not nourishing a healthy organization.

Most libraries are understaffed.  Excellence is possible when the staff is a tight collaborative community.  People know each others’ strengths and fill in each others’ gaps.  Open and easy communication holds the community together and keeps it focused on shared goals.

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